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2.6.7 Defining Templates

Templates are preconstructed or partially preconstructed character sheets. They have several uses:

  • Templates streamline the character generation process, by setting all the basic abilities for a certain type of character with a single command.
  • Templates make it easier for new players to construct viable characters. If a player knows he wants to play a mage, but is uncertain of good starting levels for a mage's stats and fundamental mage skills, and the world has a mage template, the player could select the template — spending some but not all of his points in doing so — and use the remaining points to develop skills and other abilities specific to his character conception. If the template is well designed, he would have the stats and abilities needed for any workable mage character (supplied by the template), plus other abilities specific to the character's personality, school of magic, and so forth (selected individually, with points remaining after the templated is selected).
  • The point cost of a template is set independently from the cost of the abilities that together make up the template, so — as with advantages having bundled triggered effects — you can encourage the creation of specific types of characters by defining templates that give a `point bonus': the cost of the template is less than would be the cost of its constituent abilities if selected individually.

Players can select multiple templates. You may wish to define overlapping templates that deal with different types of abilities. A fantasy world, for example, might have templates for different races (an elf template, a dwarf template, a halfling template, etc.), for different character types (a fighter template, a mage template, a thief template, etc.), and for different social groups, professions, and geographic areas (a Picts template, a nobles template, a merchant template, etc.) A player who wanted to play a noble elf mage could select the nobles, elf, and mage templates, assuming he had enough character points for all three.

Templates are only available during chargen: approved players may not select additional templates.

The Courtier character type played by Antar is a good candidate for a template: it allows characters to take a central role in the world's roleplay, but is not an obvious choice like `fighter'... Defining Courtier as a template would let us encourage this type of character by making it economical in terms of development point cost, and would forestall the necessity of explaining just what a courtier character is to new players, and how to create one.

>>  What is the category for this definition?
>> [Enter category, or .l to list choices, or .q to quit]
>>  To define a Template, respond to the following prompts for a 
    category, instance, and level. The 'category' is the class of 
    ability affected: Stat, Skill, Spell, Psiab, Advantage or 
    Disadvantage. The 'instance' is the particular value within that 
    category. For example, valid Instances for the Stats category 
    are STR, CON, DEX, INT, and PRE. 'Level' is the amount to be 
    added to the character's current values. Level may be a negative 
    number. Once all three have been specified, you may either enter 
    another effect of the template, or quit.
>>  What is the name of this Template?
>> [Enter name, or .q to quit]

As the prompt explains, defining templates essentially consists of giving the template a name, repeatedly assigning abilities to the template, and then assigning a cost.

There are courtiers and then there are courtiers... That is, we don't want all courtier characters to be cookie-cutter clones of each other. At the same time, the character type should have some things in common. In staff discussions, we might come to the following consensus about the template. Courtiers are, as the name implies, members of court. As such, they should be relatively high status (10, say), and should have the Court Influence skill. In the society that has developed on this world (that is, as it was described when the world was built, and as it has evolved over the course of play, with active players), it has become, if not a rule, then at least a strong convention that a man active in affairs of court must be able to take care of himself in a fight... But in a gentlemanly way, not as a brawling brute. He must, in short, be a fencer. And the courtier must be a `man of parts', having a certain bearing and able to converse in a noble fashion.

Translating these qualities into Argo abilities, we might arrive at the following for the list of abilities that together make up the Courtier template:

  • Member of Court: The Courtier template gives +2 to Status, and the Court Influence skill at level 1.
  • Fencer: The fencing skill has Swords 2 as a prerequisite, and we should honor this in the template definition. So, Courtier gives Swords +2 and Fencing +1.
  • A Man of Parts: The courtier has `a certain bearing', so Presence +1. `Able to converse in a noble fashion'... Conversation +1.

Note that these are all relatively low ability levels. Templates are designed for starting characters... These abilities would make one a newbie courtier, able to get started in roleplay, and have a chance to advance in the world, but unlikely to take over a faction, slay a champion fighter, or acquire a vast fortune. Not immediately, at least. For these, the player will need to advance, through good, active roleplay, acquiring the character development points needed to improve his character and making a place for himself in the MUCK's community... something that has nothing to do with the coded effects of Argo.

We enter the abilities in the template by specifying the required categories (`advantage', `skill', and `stat' in this case), the required abilities (`status', `court influence', `swords', `fencing', `presence', and `conversation'), and the appropriate levels, which are all positive numbers here, 1 and 2 (templates can take away points as well... a halfling template might increase Dexterity and Constitution but lower Strength).

When we indicate we have entered all abilities for the template, the system totals the point cost, as it would be figured if the abilities were selected individually, displays this amount, and then asks how much we want the template to cost:

>>  The Courtier Template would cost 8 points if each ability you 
    have entered were purchased separately.
>>  How much do you want the actual cost of the Template to be?
>> [Enter a point cost, or .q to quit]

If our only goal is to streamline the character generation process, and not necessarily to encourage specific races or character types, we should accept the `list cost' shown... 8 in this case. If, on the other hand, we want to encourage players to select the template, we should assign it a lower cost. If, on Antar and Nim's world, the staff has found that the `courtly intriguer' type of character played by Antar works well (that is, lends itself to TP development, and seems to be enjoyable for the players and those interacting with them), they might feel that more such characters would improve the world's RP chemistry, and choose to encourage more such characters by giving it lower cost... 7, or perhaps 6. Let's say we enter 6. At this point, the template definition is complete. The system shows a summary of the template, and asks for confirmation before entering it in the database:

>>  Entries for Courtier Template:
      skills,court influence,1
>>  Cost: 6
>>  Please confirm: You wish to enter this Template? (y/n)

If we confirm, the template will be entered in the database. Players in chargen will be able to display the template, in a slightly more verbose, user-friendly format, by typing +info template/courter:

    Stats:            PRE (1)
    Skills:           Conversation (1)
    Skills:           Court Influence (1)
    Skills:           Swords (2)
    Skills:           Fencing (1)
    Advantages:       Status (2)
    Figured Cost:     8
    Charged Cost:     6

`Courtier' is now a defined template on the world. Players can choose it during chargen, becoming courtiers and saving 2 character development points in the process, and Antar's player can page the staff members to gripe about how there was no two-point bonus back when he was a struggling newbie.

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